Feingold Supporters On the Web: Early Activity
(March 31, 2006 grab)
feingoldformichigan.blogspot. com

Feingold for Michigan
"Supporting a Common-Sense Progressive for President"

About the Site:
Started March 30, 2005 by Fitzy DeConinck ("Fitzy"), a student; "VoteFeingold" joined as a contributor in May 2006.

Fitzy DeConinck (July 10, 2006 e-mail):
>In you blog you seem to indicate that you have not had much if any involvement in political campaigns.  Is that correct?  Have you ever volunteered for or worked on a political campaign in any way?

That's right, I really don't have much experience beyond small-town, local politics. Helping with a school board election and a race for the Michigan House of Representatives is the only experience I've had, and both of those were fairly limited. However, I'm finding myself more and more involved this year, and hope to be working with a congressional campaign later this summer.

>What do you do in real life?

I'm a student in real life, and will be finishing next spring. After that, I'm not certain what will come.

>Are you a veteran blogger or web person?  Did you have a blog before Michigan for Feingold and/or do you run another blog or blogs?

Since I was about 10, I had tinkered now and then with web page design, and have gone through a variety of websites over the years, none of which are currently active (though, one of my domain names was purchased by a porn site when I didn't renew it, which was, well, odd). While my HTML skills have deteriorated some over the years, I started to get interested in blogging during the 2004 campaign, reading all the popular left-leaning blogs like MyDD and Daily Kos. In early 2005, I started a blog through Blogger, where I intended to comment on general political events. However, as I became more interested in Senator Feingold, too many posts were devoted to that, and I eventually ended that blog and replaced it with Feingold for Michigan.

>Looking back to March, if you had no previous blog experience, how did you get started?

At some point while reading and commenting on Senator Feingold with DraftRuss.com and RussForPresident.com (and MyDD or DKos diaries on him), I found Jerry Troiano's NJ for Feingold website and Steve Birenberg's Feingold for Illinois. To me, this seemed like the perfect idea-- connecting early supporters in each state long before a formal campaign began. At any rate, I decided to give it a try, and efforts by the three of us and the other states that followed developed into the 50 blog campaign.

>Do you recall when Sen. Russ Feingold first caught your attention?

I was kind of depressed after President Bush was reelected, since I was so certain going into the election that Senator Kerry would win. But I try to be an optimistic, forward-looking guy, so I started thinking about 2008, just for fun. It's fun to pretend you're kingmaker every once in a while-- here are all the Democrats in the country, and I pick this one to be president. As I looked through all the prominent politicians, Clinton, Bayh, Warner, etc., I wasn't really thinking seriously about the election four years away.

Then, I happened across Senator Feingold. I already knew a little about him, but mostly from his name coming after John McCain's on campaign finance reform. But I started reading more, and I discovered that I had found a politician that was really inspiring. I found someone that I could get excited about, and decided that maybe I should do something to make it a reality.

>What for you sets him apart from the other '08 prospects?

People love to make jokes about "honest politician" being an oxymoron, but in Senator Feingold, we find a man with principles, integrity, and good, progressive values. It's not just that he voted against the USA PATRIOT Act, or that he's been a consistent opponent to the war in Iraq, or that he's a deficit hawk in a time when that's hard to find. It's the character of the man which goes into those positions that makes him such an appealing candidate for the presidency. Throughout his career, he's shown great respect for his constituents and their needs (his listening sessions should be required for all public officials, I think) while still standing for something. Despite all the negative things that have been said about his votes or his prospects as a candidate, I have never heard anyone with any credibility deny that he does what he thinks is right for the country.

Can he be elected? I don't know, but that's what we're trying to do. Should he be elected? Yes, absolutely.

>What are one or two things you've learned from blogging for Feingold?

While blogging for Feingold, I've discovered that there's an enormous amount of talent available around the country among those that are politically active, if a candidate takes advantage of it. When I look at some of the things other bloggers have put together, from the technical side of the various websites to Jerry Troiano's blogad to the meetup organizations that are already coming together in Iowa and elsewhere, I find it incredible that all this is being done because we all want to make a difference and elect Russ Feingold.

All that potential talent, I think, is slowly being discovered, thanks to the internet and blogging. The prominent appearances by leading politicians at the YearlyKos convention last week shows that "people-powered politics" will be taken seriously.

>How did your colleague "VoteFeingold" come to be involved, and could you forward this message on to him for his input?

"VoteFeingold" contacted me one day basically to say that he was surprised there were other Feingold supporters in Michigan, and that he wanted to help make a Feingold victory happen. We exchanged e-mails, and he had a lot of good ideas, so I asked him to start blogging.

From initial posting on March 30, 2005 -

...If we want to elect the right person, we need to show him the support he needs.

Hence this blog.  The network of support can be built for Senator Feingold, to show him that he can win, and to make sure that happens.  More specifically, we can discuss how to give him as many delegates as possible from the Great Lakes State (not Wolverine State-- I'll come out now and admit, I'm something of an MSU fan) in the primaries, and guarantee him victory in November 2008.

Now comes the disclaimer: This site and I are in no way connected or affiliated with Senator Russ Feingold, his Senate staff, his family, any household pets he might own, or really anything else.  I'm not accepting donations-- this is in no way a PAC or anything anywhere close to that.  This is simply a place for discussion of how we can help the senator win in Michigan.  Comment on what I write, please; I'll be posting links to news articles, information on Senator Feingold, and anything else that seems important to me, and, if your comments are particularly well-written or thought-provoking and you live in Michigan, don't be surprised if I ask you take over a little bit of the blogging too.

Here's an excerpt from Fitzy's Aug. 14, 2005 posting that gives a sense of initial thoughts about organizing -
...A Feingold win here could provide the momentum to carry the Midwest and win the nomination.

So how do we do it? How do we build the grassroots network for Russ Feingold in Michigan? How do we get his name out there, and how do we get people excited about him?

At RussForPresident.com, there are some ideas already being formulated about billboards in Wisconsin, Iowa, and perhaps a few other places. Perhaps a well placed billboard in Ann Arbor? But surely we can do better than that! What else can we do?

I'm afraid I don't have the political experience of running a campaign. I've never organized something large like this before. However, I do know one thing: the collective knowledge and skills of the people brought together by the internet is astounding. We can come up with a way to do this!

There were a couple of comments -
Brian said...
It is still early, but as the time nears I would be willing to help with beginning to lay the groundwork.  I do have some previous experience doing this sort of thing.

In the meantime I think it is good to have the presence of this blog online so that people in our state that are interested might stumble upon it.

Other than that, we could start collecting names and email addresses of people in the state.  Building a list of interested folks now would be helpful later on when it becomes time to get down to work.  This site might be a good place to solicit that sort of info from visitors.

One last thought too.  Perhaps we could contact the Senator through the Progressive Patriots Fund and tell him we would like to see him make a swing though Michigan at some point and offer to help organize the events.

Keep blogging.

Forward Our Motto said...
Don't forget writing letters to the editor.  There's still a thing or two here and there about the 2008 presidential race.  When a MI paper does a run down of candidates and Russ gets left out, write a letter to the editor.  I live in WI, so his name recognition here is pretty good, but since you live in MI, there is more opportunity to raise awareness.  Just a thought...

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